International climate change policy and processes

International and EU climate change policy has evolved over the last five decades. Over that time international leaders have met to agree on how to address the threats posed by climate change. The first international conference, hosted by the United Nations (UN), was the 1972 Stockholm Conference. These meetings are known as the Conference of the Parties (COP) and are held every year, with COP 25 taking place in 2019 in Madrid. COP 26 was postponed by a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic and held in 2021 in Glasgow. Last year, COP 27 was held in Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt in November 2022. The latest conference, COP 28 is due to be held in November 2023 in Dubai, UAE.


United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the associated COP


The COP is the supreme decision-making body of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which sets the framework by which all governments work collaboratively to tackle the problems posed by climate change. Almost every country in the world is a member of this group. It came into being on 21 March 1994 and it instructs its member governments on issues such as gathering and sharing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions data, strategy development, adaptation, financial and technological supports, etc.


Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

IPCC logo v4

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for providing the world with regular scientific assessments related to climate change, analysing that data and following deliberation and debate publishing Reports to put forward adaptation and mitigation options on how to deal with the problems posed by climate change. It was established in 1988 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). It doesn't conduct its own research, rather it reviews and assesses data from thousands of sources and draws it together. Since the publication of the First IPCC Assessment Report in 1990 there have been six others, the latest of which being the 6th Assessment Report (AR6) which had been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The first report of AR6 was released in 2021, with the second and third report released in 2022. The Synthesis Report, combining all the information of the 3 reports, was published in 2023.


Further Information

International Institute for Sustainable Development: Reporting Services (IISD-RS) gives an overview of the history and progress of climate talks, including bulletins during and after each meeting.

Interactive Timeline: A Guide to Climate Change Negotiations

United Nations|Act Now - climate action information for the individual

NASA Global Climate Change